I came across Google Read Along app by chance. I was surfing for some reading books for kids when I chanced upon this app. It is something that is extremely easy to use and my children have been having a blast trying to read on the app. This is my review about it. This is not a sponsored post and all opinions shared are personal.
Now, with the disclaimer out of the way, let us focus on the app.
Google Read Along – What I loved
- This is an app designed to aid children learn to read on their own. It has a lot of stories and all the child has to do is attempt to read them.
- It is available in multiple languages. The app has stories in English, Hindi, Marathi, Kannada and many other Indian regional languages.
- The app in India is completely focused on the Indian children. Many times I found that the books available online had situations and names that were alien to Indian children and hence they couldn’t build a connect with the story.
- There is a voice assistant who helps and corrects the children as they read.
- There are fun games at the end of the story, which reinforces their language understanding and reading skill.
- It works without WiFi!
How does Google Read Along work?
It is an app that needs to be downloaded on the phone or the tablet. I got it downloaded on the tablet for the screen size. You need to fill basic details of the child as to age and the language that you want them to read and their name.
The app then creates an account in the child’s name and there is a voice assistant Diya, who talks in the language that the child is attempting to read. The English version is extremely naturalized, while the Marathi version seemed very textbook language. The verbiage seems forced or difficult at some places, but I am sure as voice search and NLP ( Natural Language Processing) improves, this will be taken care of.
The home page has multiple story books and most of the books are about Indian children, Indian situations and well calibrated to the reading levels of the children. New books keep getting added and that is the fun of reading.
The app asks children to read for just 20 min a day and that means minimal stress on their eyes. At the end of reading there are fun games and children earn stars and stickers for doing well there.
The voice assistant Diya, is pretty decent and does a good job of catching the reading mistakes. I observed that at times if the child reads fast or there is an ‘ss’ sound that overlaps with a vowel sound, the voice assistant might miss that.
How can Google Read Along help children across India?
One of the biggest problems that I always felt in Indian education system around languages and literature was that there was very low emphasis on reading. It was always about question and answers, learning poems and creative writing. We seemed to miss the basic fact that if we expect children to love a language or even be confident about expressing themselves in a particular language they need to be reading a lot. Comprehension comes only when there is natural improvement in reading and understanding a language.
Google Read Along might help in that area. In current times when many public schools are not online, having children read on the smartphone or other device can be a big step in keeping the children engaged and linked to education. The app is free and is available to download for anyone.
I believe government schools or schools where there is no online learning mechanism in place should encourage their pupils to download the app and read. As it does not need Wifi, there is no dependency on the internet. Even uneducated parents can help their children in reading as the app voice assistant catches most of the mistakes in reading.
Google as a brand has earned a fan in me for coming up with this app in the current times. I hope more and more students download it and learn to read in languages like their mother tongue and their medium of instruction.
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